A recycled plastics processor and broker is adding optical sortation to the company's location in Ohio.
Hamilton Polymers Co. installed an optical sorter in Leetonia capable of handling about 2,000 pounds an hour in a 12,000-square-foot location that also provides warehousing and transloading operations for the company's brokerage business.
Owner Munish Suri sees the potential to not only expand optical sorting at the Ohio location, but also place similar equipment in other parts of the county.
Hamilton Polymers, which does most of its business on the brokerage side, originally opened the location about 20 months ago as a transloading and staging facility with the intention of eventually adding optical equipment.
"I've been doing this since 2008. I recognize there are different ways to add value to the materials. You can grind, you can wash, you can pelletize. But the technology has gotten quite advanced where you can use optics. You can use different types of cameras to detect different types of polymers. In this case, we're taking a step back from that even, just strictly color," Suri said.
The decision to then employ an optical sorter at the Ohio site allows the company to add value by further processing feedstocks through color sortation, Suri explained. He called the move opportunistic because he has seen so many times in the past where he could have added value through optical sortation.
"We have a certain cost. If there is a differential in terms of what we can make off it, we will buy it and then we will sell it [after optical sortation]. We'll make the margin that way," he said.
Suri also operates what he described as "more of a traditional recycling facility" location in Cordele, Ga. He said he saw an opportunity to use technology to create another business opportunity at the Ohio site without having to invest heavily into infrastructure such as construction of a wash line.
"It's appealing to me for a number of reasons. There's not a high labor component to it. You can have one or two people do it. As compared to a grinder, there's not a lot of wear parts and we are not changing blades," Suri explained.
"As far as energy, we are using compressed air. We're not running a lot of motors. So I take all of these factors in running a manufacturing facility and I can tick down all those things I normally require. My operating costs are much lower to do this," he said.
Hamilton Polymers initially started with PET sortation, but the owner says there is opportunity to handle other resins as well. "I'm material agnostic," Suri said.
"We're running mostly PET, hot wash PET, taking the color out. All regrind — end up with a nice, clear product," explained Josh Kamer, vice president of sales. "It's actually been really surprisingly busy. There seems to be a lot of demand, which is really nice. We just have to go to work and find the sources and the feedstocks that work for the demand that we have."
Demand, Kamer said, is being driven by a "catch-up" from COVID-19 along with higher prime resin pricing that has made recycled resin pricing "more equitable for some companies."
Running an optical sorter in Ohio allows Hamilton Polymers to do more business with other traders because of the added sortation capabilities and gives the company more quality control, he said.